Turning 18 might not seem like a big deal. For some students, it means being able to legally buy cigarettes or pornographic videos, in most states. This year, however, it means something greater – the chance to vote in the 2008 presidential election and be a part of history.
Get Out The Vote, a student-run organization at the University of Miami that registers students to vote, was originally founded in 2004 after UM hosted the presidential debate between President George W. Bush and John Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts.
The organization, which was founded by UM freshmen four years ago and is now directed by graduate student John Constantinide, has taken off this year with the presidential election just weeks away.
“We started registering students in August and so far, about 1,500 students have registered through us,” said junior Kristen Rosales, president of Get Out The Vote. “Our main goal is to register students and make sure they go and vote on election day.”
With 20 members – 10 of them actively involved – Get Out the Vote has been busy registering and educating students about the candidates. Because they are a nonpartisan group, Get Out The Vote works closely with both the UM Young and College Democrats and UM College Republicans.
“We definitely cross paths many times with Get Out The Vote,” said junior Jason Stevens, the president of UM Young Democrats. “When Obama came to campus, our members worked with the organization to register voters.”
Chairman of UM College Republicans Maria Pelfrey said her club also works with Get Out The Vote.
“We were contacted by the organization to partake in different political activities on campus such as Voterpalooza,” Pelfrey said.
Get Out the Vote has held various events throughout the semester, including Voter Awareness Day this past Monday, and has co-sponsored with other organizations to register students when speakers such as former MTV news correspondent Gideon Yago, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama came to campus.
“We work closely with the Democratic and Republican clubs on campus,” Rosales said. “We want to get out to all the students and have them get excited and informed.”
Get Out The Vote will be registering late-comer students in the UC breezeway from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Monday, the last day for registration in Florida.
They are also hosting a block party outside the BankUnited Center which will include food, games, giveaways and a DJ from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. the day of the election, Nov. 4. A watch party will be held on the UC Green for the results, which Rosales hopes will include the entire student body.
“Even after the election, we will still be registering students on campus,” Rosales said. “There’s still local elections going on and we want the students to stay up to date with what’s going on after the election. We hope to keep students politically active.”
UM Young and College Democrats
- Between 70-75 members
- Table everyday in breezeway from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Have registered about 1,500 students
- Canvassing for campaign around the area
- Phone banking – called more than 1,000 people in Pinecrest area
- Surrogate Cynthia Nixon from “Sex and the City” bought in to speak
- Meet and Greet with Annette Taddeo, Democratic congressional candidate of Florida’s 18th district
- Vice presidential debate watch party at Chili’s in the Grove Thursday
UM College Republicans
- About 45 active members
- Table in breezeway Mon-Thurs. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Precinct walk as group
- Phone banking in Doral where McCain’s local headquarters located
- Held Republican National Convention watch parties for McCain and Palin in lower UC
- Held veteran’s forum in upstairs UC and brought in three veterans, including a Vietnam veteran
- McCain tailgate for Miami vs. FSU this Saturday
VOTING TIPS FOR UM STUDENTS
- A shuttle will transport UM voters from Stanford Circle to the Coral Gables Library, which is the early voting site, from noon to 6 p.m., Oct. 27 to Oct. 31. The shuttle service was implemented by the student-run organization Get Out The Vote, the office of Student Affairs and Student Government.
- Students living on campus can vote at the BankUnited Center, where voting machines have increased to 10 for this election. Students should bring a Cane Card as well as a current and valid identification that contains the voter’s name, photograph and signature.
- To learn more about political issues and the election process, go to the Cosford Cinema every Thursday night in October to view the series of documentary and fiction films “Elections: Real and Unreal,” produced by the School of Communication.
- For voter registration tips, events and watch party schedules, visit www.miami.edu/decision08